To have close friends is to approach a fuller life.
In The Four Loves, the author CS Lewis recalls the days when he and his friends met regularly, pulling up chairs around a small table in an Oxford pub. He describes how one person at that table has the ability, just by being around, to bring something unique and different out of each of the others. For Lewis, when any one person at the table is surrounded by close friends, and when those close friends are all drawing out of the one something distinctive and something exceptional, then and only then is that person most wholly himself or herself. He writes, “In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.”
This evening Ryan and Ashley want to take a moment of their wedding ceremony, the beginning in fact, to honor one of those friends, one who sits at their table, who is not able to be here today.
For the next eleven months, Josh Hemmings is on active duty in the Republic of Iraq. In your programs you will notice that he is named honorary groomsman because in Ashley’s words “he certainly would have been in the wedding party had he been in town.” Ryan and Ashley want to communicate their excitement that Josh’s family is in attendance in his place this evening. And as the harpist performs a rendition of “America the Beautiful,” I would like to invite us all to acknowledge the service and the friendship of Corporal Joshua Chandler Hemmings of the United States Marines.